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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2020 Article IV Consultation with Italy reflects discussions with the Italian authorities in January 2020 and is based on the information available as of January 28, 2020. It focuses on Italy’s medium-term challenges and policy priorities and was prepared prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Italy. It, therefore, does not cover the outbreak or the related policy response, which has since become the overarching near-term priority. The outbreak has greatly amplified uncertainty and downside risks around the outlook. Staff is closely monitoring this health crisis and will continue to work on assessing its impact and the related policy response in Italy and globally. The overarching challenges are to raise growth and enhance resilience. The IMF staff projects growth in Italy to be the lowest in the European Union over the next five years. High public debt remains a key source of vulnerability. Substantial progress has been made in strengthening bank balance sheets, but important weaknesses remain. In order to durably raise growth and reduce vulnerabilities, Italy needs faster potential growth and medium-term fiscal consolidation.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation with Republic of Macedonia discusses that after a protracted political crisis, the economy has entered a period of solid growth and stability. Over the recent years, the authorities have reviewed the reform momentum, with crucial institutional and governance reforms and efforts to make public finances more sustainable and equitable. Growth is expected to accelerate in 2020. Lower taxes and higher pensions and wages?including public sector and minimum wages?are expected to provide a further, albeit one-off, stimulus to consumption. Export and investment growth would remain robust but slow somewhat, reflecting weak growth in trading partners. An ambitious consolidation is needed to rebuild fiscal policy space and re-orient public spending toward investment. Reforms to address key labor market and institutional weaknesses will help lift medium-term growth and speed up income convergence. Although growth has been solid in the past two decades, it has not been enough to substantially narrow North Macedonia’s large income gap with the European Union. In order to accelerate convergence, it is essential to continue reforms to improve the public administration, rule of law, and control of corruption.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This Selected Issues chapter outlines a strategy to facilitate this and navigate the more challenging monetary environment, involving enhanced communication of policy interest rate intentions and inflation-forecast targeting. The reduction in the inflation target by a percentage point to 2 percent in January 2016 weakened the nominal anchor. Monetary policy can play a role rebuilding the credibility of the anchor more rapidly through the adoption of inflation-forecast targeting. This strengthening of the monetary policy framework involves enhancing communications. An effective, credible monetary policy cannot address all macroeconomic challenges facing Korea. Rather, it can foster robust growth with low inflation, providing a stable and predictable environment that allows other policies to work more effectively. These other policies play a complementary role. Fiscal policy can reinforce the effectiveness of monetary policy, as illustrated by model scenarios. Structural policies can also support monetary policy by, for example, boosting potential growth.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
The three year Fund-supported program that expired at end-June 2014 succeeded in stabilizing Portugal’s economy and restoring access to sovereign debt markets. Following the deep downturn of 2011–12, the economy has expanded in six of the last seven quarters, albeit at a moderate pace. The cumulative fiscal consolidation over the past three years has been substantial, and the current account is now in surplus. Regained policy credibility and benign market conditions have facilitated the resumption of market access at declining yields. But private consumption is driving the recovery, while the necessary rebalancing of the economy remains elusive. With post-crisis labor slack still extensive, attaining higher growth through private investment and export-led growth continues to be constrained by high corporate debt and weak external competitiveness. Moreover, the momentum for reforms and fiscal adjustment appears to have flagged over the past six months. Notwithstanding past structural reform efforts aimed at improving competitiveness, the slow expansion despite the high labor slack suggests that the unfinished agenda is substantial. Corporate debt is also excessively high, acting as a brake on investment and job creation. While the fiscal targets for 2014 seem well within reach, significantly more ambitious expenditure reforms will be needed to comply with the government’s own medium-term budget framework. Recently regained policy credibility and benign market conditions provide a welcome but only limited window of opportunity to press ahead with necessary reforms. With elections due by October 2015, building consensus around these reforms will prove difficult in the short term. In this context, discussions focused on three key areas necessary to maintaining economic and financial stability and improving medium- term growth prospects: (i) enhancing competitiveness through further reforms to improve the functioning of labor and product markets, and making progress on corporate deleveraging; (ii) safeguarding financial sector stability in a low profitability and low growth environment; and (iii) ensuring fiscal stability in a low profitability and low growth environment; and (iii) ensuring fiscal sustainability against the backdrop of vulnerable debt dynamics and large financing needs.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper on Germany focuses on current economic condition in the country. The build-up of Germany’s current account surplus over the last decade does not lend itself to a single-factor explanation, as both global and domestic factors, as well as policy changes led to increased savings and lower investment. All sectors contributed to the build-up of the surplus. Although fiscal consolidation and higher household savings played a role, the corporate sector experienced a more pronounced shift. This paper provides a retrospective on these developments and explores whether the factors contributing to the surplus are likely to be reversed going forward. Although there are common global drivers for the non-financial corporations shift to a net lender position, several German-specific factors played a role, notably the labor market reforms in the 2000s, the business tax reforms, and the globalization of German firms’ production chains. The households’ saving–investment gap widened in the early 2000s as the pension reforms and growing income inequality boosted households’ savings and residential investment declined by the end of the reunification construction boom.
International Monetary Fund
After being hit by a severe recession in 2008–09, the Belgian economy is gradually recovering. When core inflation remained subdued in 2010, headline inflation jumped up due to the energy price hike. The growth of potential output is expected to revert to its declining trend over the medium term. Building upon the encouraging 2010 fiscal outcome, the caretaker government is preparing a draft federal budget for 2011. To reduce the overall deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 2012, significant additional tightening measures will be needed.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper focuses on the fiscal challenge for Belgium in coping with population aging, including the sustainability of prevailing fiscal federalism arrangements across all levels of governments. The analysis demonstrates that the current strategy of upfront consolidation is likely to fall short of achieving sustainability. Further reductions in aging-related spending and growth and productivity-enhancing reforms beyond those assumed under the authorities’ strategy appear to be necessary. The paper also assesses whether the wage bargaining framework, a key labor market institution, is conducive to preserving external competitiveness and raising employment rates.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper addresses the question of what policy changes in France are needed under European Monetary Union (EMU), as regards the role of fiscal policy in stabilizing the economy. The fiscal strategy over the past two and a half decades is reviewed, and, against this background, an assessment is offered concerning the role and scope of fiscal stabilizers in France under EMU. The main conclusions is that over the past two and a half decades, fiscal policy operated in a clear countercyclical way in France, but this reflected essentially the functioning of automatic stabilizers.